Dreams of Working in the Game-Making Industry

Do you have dreams of making video games? If so, are you actively honing your skills? Or are your dreams simmering in the back of your mind till the time comes?

There was a brief moment in time as a kid when I listed “video game maker” as one of my dream jobs. Though I had no idea what the process of making a video game entailed, it seemed like a logical occupation to aim for because of my love for the medium. I sort of wish I could tell you that my story ends happily ever after with the dream game-making job (whatever that means), but my story may at least be blog post worthy.

(my pencil drawing of a Resident Evil print ad)

The first time I did anything that could translate as a video game job would be art. There was a period of two years in middle school and high school where I really enjoyed pencil drawing and got pretty good at it. Oftentimes, I would draw video game characters or things from video games cause I enjoyed drawing them. To this day, I don’t know exactly what happened, but the drawing talent just disappeared one day. Maybe I was just over-thinking it, but to this day, I freeze up any time I try to draw.

In high school, I took a computer programming course. For a few weeks, I thought maybe this would be my pathway into the game-making business. Man, did that thought die quick. Once we started coding in one of the oldest and most basic programming languages, I quickly realized that I did not have the chops for this type of work. I remember one particular project that required us to write code so that the application would display a Union Jack and it was so hard to do. I’d write the code, publish it, and I’d always find something wrong with it. No matter what I did to debug it, I couldn’t wrap my head around what it was I needed to do to fix it. I figured that if I was struggling this badly just to render a static image, there was no way I’d improve to a point where I could make a video game.

Most recently, with my experience working as a project manager in the digital advertising agency, I’ve contemplated the possibility of transitioning into a project management role in a game development company. Out of any sort of initial game-making dreams, this one was by far the most plausible. However, based on the things I’ve heard about working in the industry (particularly the late hours), my interest in pursuing this path has waned considerably.

Ultimately, just like anything else in life, you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. I’ve never really put my mind to anything related to making games, which is fine. Instead, I’ll continue to focus my energy on blogging, which is probably for the best.

5 thoughts on “Dreams of Working in the Game-Making Industry

  1. Liza June 30, 2012 / 10:37 AM

    I work as a Production Manager in the video game-making industry, currently responsible for project management of a AAA title. From what I’ve heard about advertising agencies, I think your industry is more insane than mine! Like everywhere else, how good or bad it is depends on the company and/or project you’re working on. As a project manager, you would have a big influence on that. If you do your job well and keep everything on track, then life on the project is better for everyone.

    At the same time, working in the industry may change your appreciation for games. You certainly won’t experience them the same way.

    • Jett July 3, 2012 / 12:04 AM

      Thanks for the comment and insight!

      I live relatively close by Ubisoft Toronto, which is currently working on the new Splinter Cell game. When that office was first starting up, I considered applying, though I have no experience managing video games in particular.

      If I may ask, how did you get into the production side?

      • Liza July 27, 2012 / 9:34 AM

        How I got into video games is the way I recommend anyone breaks into a new industry – get recommended by a friend who works at the company. That friend was building his own football game in his spare time and was eventually recruited by EA Sports. A few months later he contacted me to let my husband know that EA was hiring like crazy. I responded with “What about me?” At that point, I had been doing project management in hardware for 4 years (plus 5 years of Engineering), so I featured that along with any software experience on my resume. They called me the same day that my friend submitted it.

        Toronto is trying to be the next game development city in Canada. Ubi Toronto is doing well. Rockstar closed down their Vancouver studio to move operations and grow their Toronto studio. Beeline Interactive is doing well with iPhone games. There are a handful of smaller companies independent developers as well.

        It is difficult for us to hire from outside the industry, since our projects need people to ramp up very quickly with very little support. If your resume and LinkedIn profiles show that, you might get an interview. Once in awhile, there are opportunities where we can accomodate more of a learning curve or we need someone with different experience. So, if working in game development is something you really want to do, I suggest you keep your eyes open and keep trying. You never know when the right opportunity will come along.

      • Jett July 27, 2012 / 4:40 PM

        Thank you for the insight! I’ll keep your points in mind. Out of curiosity, what areas are development hot spots?

        Also, as a project manager, beyond the aspects of managing time and budget, do you get any sort of say in what goes into a final product?

  2. Liza July 27, 2012 / 7:45 PM

    Montreal is currently the hottest hotspot, in Canada at least. Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City are growing. Vancouver used to be the hotspot, but it got too expensive there, so companies are moving to Montreal and Toronto. Outside of Canada, the San Francisco Bay Area, LA and Seattle continue to do well. There are more famous companies around the world, but they tend to be the only game development in those areas.

    Do I get a say of what goes in the game? Not officially. However, a good team is open to ideas, no matter where they come from. So, if I suggest something that works, it sticks. I actually try to not add more creative input. We have more than enough already.

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